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Hello, writers. Next week this diary is going on vacation for Thanksgiving. While we're at it, this diary is also going to go on vacation on Christmas Eve. This is assuming people won't be around anyway. By the way this diary doesn't like holidays at all; thanks for letting it get that off its chest.

However, if you aren't all grinchy yourself and care to do a little holiday shopping, be sure to bookshop blue with sarahnity's Books By Kossacks. (You could also check out the genre-specific books-by-kossacks diaries I did a year ago, including political books, general fiction, fantasy and science fiction, and children's books-- though these are by no means complete and I missed some really good stuff.)

St. Martin's Press New Adult Contest

Wish I'd known about this last week, because the deadline is tomorrow, but St. Martin's Press has a good old-fashioned call for submissions going on (though they call it a contest). They're looking for "new adult", which they define as like young adult only aimed at readers in their late teens and twenties (IOW actual young adults).

So if you've got a manuscript written and revised that qualifies, post a pitch and a hook (first paragraph)-- and if you don't, it's always interesting to read through what's there and see what does and doesn't work. (If you've got time on your hands, you might also want to compare the pitches to what actually gets published,which can also sound pretty damned implausible at times.)

Let's Talk About Our Problems

So another thing about NaNoWriMo-- as you push ahead (even if this isn't your first-- or eighth-- time through the novel-writing mill) you become more aware of your personal problems-- I mean of the writing type. You should work on your weaknesses, and, of course, you should also work on your strengths. When you're trying to pound out 50k words in 30 days, though, you should probably recognize your weaknesses, give them a nod in passing, and slog onward. Deal with them on the revision.

Two friendly old problems of mine are what I call Ho Hum, I Sure Hope They Don't Hang Us and The Muskrat Effect.

"Ho hum, I sure hope they don't hang us" was a comment a friend made on the opening scene of an early draft of Pickpocket. The characters were about to be sentenced to death, but they just didn't seem particularly upset about it. According to my friend. I thought they were sufficiently upset, but somehow it just wasn't coming through and it wasn't emotionally engaging enough. The whole scene needed to be cranked up.

Looking at what I'm writing now I see the same problem-- there are lots of HHISHTDHU scenes. They'll get cranked up on the revision, if they don't get cut.

The Muskrat Effect is named after my neighbor, Muskrat*. Whenever you talk to Muskrat you have the impression that most of the conversation has already taken place inside his head and that now he's just offering a commentary on it. Sometimes you just have to stop him and ask him to fill you in, as for example when you catch the words "cemetery plot" and you have to back him up and ask who's died.

With my middle grades fantasy manuscript that's looking for a home right now (I remember telling cfk this) I wrote what I thought was a great fight scene with a sea serpent. Then when I reread it read like a lurid sex scene. The problem was I'd forgotten to mention that there was a sea serpent present.  

The Muskrat Effect is forgetting to tell the reader the basic info that's so clear in your own vision of the story that it seems to go without saying. Another thing to deal with on revisions.

What about you? What are your particular problems? How do you deal with 'em?

*Well, yes, as far as I know that is his real name.

NaNoWriMo word counts-- (tell me yours and I'll add it)
Brooke in Seattle  14,061 words
cfk                44,576 words
CroneWit           39,059 words
Deejay Lyn         2,500
James Rhetor       31,212 words
Mnemosyne          5,629 words
SensibleShoes      39,926 words
SuperBowlXX        29,000 words

(Since we won't be meeting next week, I'll post final word counts in the next diary on December 3.)

Write On! will be a regular Thursday feature (8 pm ET) until it isn't. Be sure to check out other great lit'ry diaries like:
sarahnity's books by kossacks on Tuesdays
plf515's What Are You Reading? on Wednesday mornings.
cfk's bookflurries on Wednesday nights.

Your happy writing links for the week:

Writer Beware finds nothing immediately suspicious about AgentInbox, a new service for contacting agents.

Here's a discussion on the business side of writing (money and taxes and like that).

In a similar vein, here's a very thorough and user-friendly explication of earning out vs. making your publisher money.

The Intern continues NaNoRevisMo with some pithy thoughts on murdering your darlings. She also dissects a book buying decision.

The bookosphere's conniption-fit-of-the-week is about Harlequin, who have launched a vanity publishing imprint and totally lost their integrity. (There, that's a set-up line. Do with it what you like.)

Never, ever sign anything with any agent or publisher whom you haven't checked out at Writer Beware or Preditors and Editors.  

Originally posted to SensibleShoes on Thu Nov 19, 2009 at 05:02 PM PST.

Also republished by Readers and Book Lovers.

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